“Best of Show Up Close” is a series about participants in Radio World’s annual Best of Show at NAB Awards program.
MaxxKonnect nominated the MaxxKonnect Wireless LTE internet link. MaxxKonnect Wireless acts as reliable link for remote productions or remote sites. It is designed to work right out of the box. MaxxKonnect has negotiated priority service deals with AT&T and Verizon to ensure service throughout most of the country.
We asked MaxxKonnect President and CEO Josh Bohn for more information.
Radio World: What is MaxxKonnect?
Josh Bohn: MaxxKonnect Wireless is prioritized LTE internet service designed for broadcast applications. We work on the Verizon and AT&T networks (T-Mobile is coming soon) which gives us the flexibility to give customers the carrier which works better in their area. Each one of our SIMs comes with priority on the carrier network, plus a true public static IP address, which is crucial for most broadcast applications.
RW: What inspired its creation?
Bohn: Back in 2014, I had a group of stations I was taking care of. I had one station out in the woods, about 14 miles from the nearest cell tower — and two and half hours from my house. The phone company couldn’t even keep a landline into it. So, it would go off the air, someone would call me and say it was off and I’d call the remote. This call was answered by a “this line is currently out of service” message, which was followed by me cussing for a bit, then making the long drive out to the woods. I’d arrive, push Plate ON on the transmitter, cuss at is some more, then drive back. A five-hour round tripper to literally push a button. After about the umpteenth time, I finally said, “There has to be a better way …”
We tried a regular LTE wireless modem and SIM into a Cradlepoint router, which is a fairly standard setup. This succeeded in getting an internet connection into the place, albeit with some external antennas. But it still wasn’t very good. And since there wasn’t a static IP — or even a public IP — we had to resort to a PC at the site and LogMeIn for any kind of site control or monitoring. This setup worked, but was clunky. The PC would update and cause problems, or wouldn’t reboot after a power fail, etc., etc. It was during this stage that I started negotiations with the carriers for what would become MaxxKonnect.
Once I was able to successfully negotiate our service with the carriers, we beta tested for over three years before ever introducing the product to the market. I wanted to be 100% confident that this service would be reliable and robust for broadcasters in as many areas as possible. We debuted it at NAB2018 as an aside to our main showing (which flopped, BTW). It caught the eye of Chris Tobin and Kirk Harnack. Since then, our user base has been steadily growing.
RW: What kind of questions did booth visitors ask about MaxxKonnect?
Bohn: The thing we heard the most was, “You can’t do this. This won’t work.” Well, I assure you, yes we can do it — and yes, it does work! People were somewhat skeptical of the priority part of the service, but we’ve got lots of test cases to prove it. Another was, “Well, I can get this from Verizon or AT&T tomorrow.” No, unfortunately you can’t. This service took me years to develop and isn’t available to the average person.
People also asked about the commitment. That’s one of the cool things — there is no commitment! If you get the service, try it and decide for whatever reason you don’t want it anymore, you can cancel! No fees, no arguments, no transferring between 12 departments. Just give us 30 days’ notice and pay your last bill — and that’s it. And we all stay friends. My goal for this was to make it easy for broadcasters to get the connectivity they needed for transmitter sites, remotes, etc.
They also asked about hardware. We do offer hardware from Cradlepoint and Pepwave, depending on your needs. A lot of customers like that they can order a complete package from us. When it arrives, it’s already programmed and setup, so all the customer has to do it take it out of the box, plug it in and — Voila! — they have internet. But, another cool feature is that our service is compatible with basically any LTE data hardware! Whether it’s a Comrex Connect modem, a Tieline modem, a Pantech modem or a Cradlepoint — MaxxKonnect works with it. As long as you can change the APN information to our private and/or semiprivate APN, you can use any hardware. We are currently testing with smart devices (phones, tablets, etc.) for data use with no voice or text/SMS. Preliminary tests show promise for use with audio programs like LuciLive, Skype and others. This would simplify remotes even more for some customers.
We’ve also got a POTS replacement service we’re starting to roll-out called MaxxPhone. It’s a low-cost way to get a POTS line for your remote control via your MaxxKonnect internet connection.
RW: Who would use MaxxKonnect?
Bohn: Anyone that needs internet service, basically! MaxxKonnect is usually deployed at remote sites where traditional internet delivery isn’t an option, and for remotes. The priority on the network is key for remotes with large crowds of people. It cuts through all the bandwidth clutter and lets your broadcast continue when 15,000 people show up with their 1.5 devices each. I’ve also got customers who are using it as a backup to their IP radio system at their transmitter sites; others who are using it as an emergency backup at their studios to keep their IP phone systems alive when their main internet fails; and others using it as primary STLs with their favorite hardware codec. A MaxxKonnect is an extremely useful tool to have around your station for all kinds of solve all kinds of connectivity needs!
RW: Why would someone use MaxxKonnect when wireless service is available everywhere?
Bohn: We get asked this a lot. Think of it this way — when you show up to a concert or a fair or a race or whatever, and you try to do something on your phone, what happens? Typically nothing. The cell towers or the venue Wi-Fi is so overloaded with everyone doing Facebook Live, Instagram, etc., that you can’t even load a web page, let alone do a broadcast. The prioritization of the MaxxKonnect service puts your connection on a different part of the carrier network, which bypasses all of the congestion in the public space, and lets you connect to do your broadcast reliably. Now, we can’t guarantee anything 100% — no one can. Internet and carrier anomalies do happen. We’ve had a few places (mostly in extremely rural parts of New England) where the service just won’t work because the carriers never built out the back end. In those cases, the customer just sent their router back and we refunded them. But, the MaxxKonnect service has been successfully used multiple times at major music festivals around the country, as well as concerts, SEC football games, the Regions Tradition golf tournament, major fairs and the Indianapolis 500 (with their 300,000+ attendees.)
RW: How much does MaxxKonnect cost? Is there a service fee?
Bohn: Yes. The monthly cost varies based on the amount of data you expect to need. We can do a 1 GB plan for as low as $56 and go all the way up to 100 GB plans. Our most popular plans are 10 GB. These range from $109 per month to $129 per month, depending on the carrier. Another awesome feature of the MaxxKonnect service is if you hit your “data cap,” nothing happens to your data stream. We won’t throttle you or turn you off. You just get billed for the overage. Broadcasters need reliability and known connectivity, not another headache of wondering if their station or broadcast is going to go off because they exceeded their data cap.
Also, if you purchase multiple plans on the same tier on the same carrier, their data pools together into on big “data bucket.” For example, if you get six 10 GB plans on Verizon for your company or station, you don’t have six individual 10 GB devices which are subject to overages after 10 GB. You’ve actually got 60 GB of total data that can be used across all of the devices. If one device uses 45 GB and the others each use 2 GB, you’re still under your cap. It’s great way to maximize value for a large scale deployment across a company or group.
RW: What does MaxxKonnect consist of?
Bohn: MaxxKonnect is a service primarily. You must get the MaxxKonnect SIM from Bohn Broadcast — you can’t get this directly from the carriers. MaxxKonnect becomes your ISP. You need some type of compatible hardware — which can be provided by the customer or by us. And that’s really it. It’s very simple from a deployment standpoint.
RW: Is there a 5G version in the works?
Bohn: Most likely, yes. We are currently able to achieve the reliability that we need using the existing 4G LTE technology. However, as 5G continues to roll out, our service will continue to evolve to utilize new technology to maintain our necessary level of reliability.
The Future Best of Show Awards program honors and helps promote outstanding new products exhibited at industry conventions like the spring NAB Show. Exhibitors pay a fee to enter; not all entries win. Watch for more coverage of participating products soon. To learn about all of the nominees and winners, read the 2019 Best of Show Program Guide.
This informative piece ran in Radio a year after the 9/11 collapse of the World Trade Center towers and the broadcast facility located there.
With tremendous height and clear coverage of Manhattan, the World Trade Center towers were home to four FM radio transmitters. On Sept. 11, 2001, WKCR, WKTU, WNYC and WPAT were not only faced with the difficulties inherent in covering news from a city under attack, but also they lost their transmission capabilities and equipment, just when they were most needed. Twelve months after the World Trade Center collapse, none of the stations have fully recovered.Backup plans
The terrorist attacks have forced New York stations to re-examine their emergency plans. There is now more variety in the mix of New York City backup locations and fully redundant transmission systems. For the four World Trade Center FM stations, emergency plans no longer mean simply a low-power transmitter for equipment failures. Backup systems were not considered of high importance before September, but “now you’re criminally negligent if you don’t have backup systems in place,” said WPAT Chief Engineer Mike Toko.
When WNYC constructed its original transmission systems, the cost of a full-power backup system was considered excessive for its needs. “Who thought that the World Trade Center was going to collapse? That tells you anything can happen and you have to weigh the ‘what if’ scenarios against real world costs,” WNYC Chief Engineer Steve Shultis said. For some stations, the cost of an extended outage may weigh more than the initial outlay on a backup location. “You spend a million dollars to build a backup system but what’s the ROI? For us the site has more than paid for itself,” said Josh Hadden, Clear Channel’s New York director of engineering.
The full economic consequences of the damage from Sept. 11 may never be known, but New York broadcasters lost significant revenue while they were off the air, in addition to transmission equipment. Long-term solutions may be years in the making, but a review of station emergency preparedness plans should be something every station undertakes regularly.
The site at 4 Times Square was built as Clear Channel’s backup facility. It is now the main site for WKTU.
Photo by John Lyons WKTU, 103.5 FM
Clear Channel’s WKTU was the first of the affected stations to return to the air. It also was the only one of the four stations with a backup system located elsewhere. The World Trade Center was the site of numerous television transmissions. Between 1999 and 2001, construction and testing of the DTV antenna system on the towers meant regular disruptions for radio broadcasters. To cope with the ongoing outages, Clear Channel built a backup transmission system in Times Square. “When the TV stations at the World Trade Center were upgrading their DTV projects, we used Times Square every night,” said Josh Hadden, director of engineering, Clear Channel New York. “That meant we were best positioned of all the FMs, of the stations on the World Trade Center, in that we already had a backup site in Manhattan.” Within minutes of the collapse, WKTU was able to switch to the backup site, covering 80% of ERP at 8 kW.
Within the week, WKTU requested and received an STA from the FCC for upgraded power from its backup site. The station now operates at 17 kW at Times Square. While WKTU plans to keep the Times Square site as a backup, it has filed an application with the FCC for a master antenna license at the Empire State Building. Hadden hopes to receive the license this year but spacing issues with a Class A station on Long Island could delay the approval. The FCC is requiring all the stations from the World Trade Center to follow normal application procedures.
Harris supplied the temporary transmitter that WKCR used from the roof of a campus dorm.
Photo by Wayne Gignac. WKCR, 89.9 FM
Next to return to the air was Columbia University’s WKCR. When the towers collapsed, WKCR lost its primary and backup systems. Shortly after the disaster, Station Engineer Rich Koziol ordered an emergency package from Harris for WKCR and arranged similar orders for WPAT and WNYC. The 1 kW Quest transmitter was installed on the roof of a campus dorm by Sept. 13. Unfortunately, the station now reaches only 9 percent of its original audience.
For five years, WKCR had operated out of nearby Riverside Church. In September 2001, the station planned to move back to the Columbia University campus into a brand new digital studio. “We spent a half million dollars [on the studios] and had planned fund raising for Sept. 28 but with 9% power couldn’t do it, so now we owe the university,” said Koziol.
WKCR received insurance funding and a government grant to build a new transmitter site, but it is still trying to negotiate an alternative location for the station. “The best site right now is Empire, but everyone is trying to get there,” said Koziol, “there is no electrical, no room and the mast is full, so we chose not to do Empire, as we were such a small player.”
There is a mast on the tower of Riverside Church, where WKCR formerly had its studios. Originally used by WRVR, the church antenna was abandoned many years ago and Koziol is hopeful the FCC will grant temporary authority for WKCR to transmit from the site. “With 26 stations we could interfere with in the educational band, any move requires a major review of short spacing,” said Koziol. A study of the impact of the move to Riverside has been sent to the FCC and WKCR is waiting on the results. After FCC approvals are received, the station expects to be running from the church mast within 40 days.
The WPAT installation at Times Square is also used by sister station WSKQ.
Photo by John Lyons WPAT 93.1 FM
Spanish-language broadcaster WPAT erected a 1 kW transmitter at the Empire State Building after losing its primary and backup equipment at the World Trade Center. “We were down for 59 hours and 48 minutes, not that I was counting,” said Chief Engineer Mike Toko. Though lower in height, and with less power at the Empire State Building, WPAT was still able to reach 75% of its audience.
Once emergency transmissions had been established at the Empire State Building, WPAT began constructing an alternate site in Times Square. “At Times Square we have 90% coverage, we’ve only been on a couple of months but it’s looking good and sounding good,” said Toko. During the next six months, the station plans to construct a full-power main site at the Empire State Building and use Times Square as a backup.
WNYC installed a full-power facility at Times Square.
Photo courtesy of WNYC WNYC 93.9 FM
The last of the four FMs to return to the air was WNYC. Immediately after the collapse of the World Trade Center, WNYC worked to maintain transmission on its AM facility in New Jersey. Once the AM signal was stabilized, WNYC began restoring its FM signal, placing a 1 kW signal at the Empire State Building. “Empire was a shock,” said Chief Engineer Steve Shultis. “With low power at Empire we got the whole east side back, which we had lost 15 years ago when we moved to the World Trade Center. We had so much shadow [from the World Trade Center site] that even the 1 kW [on the Empire State Building] was an improvement.”
WNYC spent the next six months building a full-power facility in Times Square. “Times Square was quicker for full power because the combiner system was plug and play, it just took a couple overnights to install,” Shultis said. Now in the process of building a full-power facility at the Empire State Building, the station soon expects to have a full-power main facility at the Empire State Building and a full-power backup at Times Square. Shultis said, “My goal is 9/11 this year, as that would be a fitting ending to that calendar cycle.”
Stephanie Snyder is an independent streaming media consultant.
Sept. 11, 2001
- WKCR, WPAT, WNYC and WKTU lose transmitters and backup systems on World Trade Center;
- WKTU returns to air from backup transmitter in Times Square;
- Harris ships three transmitters and ERI ships three antennas to WKCR, WPAT and WNYC;
- WNYC(FM) simulcasts on AM transmitter in New Jersey and on WNYE(FM).
Sept. 13, 2001
- Transmitters arrive from Harris.
- WKCR returns to air using 1 kW antenna on roof of dorm at Columbia University.
Sept. 14, 2001
- WPAT returns to air with 1 kW antenna on Empire State Building.
Sept. 16, 2001
- WNYC returns to air on 1 kW antenna on Empire State Building.
The post From the Archives: Rebuilding Radio Stations Despite the Rubble – Post 9/11 appeared first on Radio World.
Nautel has announced the hiring of Joe Cheong to serve as its new regional sales manager for the Asia Pacific region.Joe Cheong
Cheong joins Nautel having most recently served as the deputy director of the Communications Engineering Business Unit for NCS in Singapore. Previous experience also includes management positions at Infowave and CET Technologies (now ST Electronics).
“We are pleased to welcome Joe to the Nautel team,” said Kevin Rodgers, Nautel’s CEO. “His background in communications, electronics and system integration will be an asset to our many partners in the region as we continue to support growing broadcast needs in the area.”
Cheong will be based in Singapore.
The post Nautel Names Joe Cheong Asia Pacific Sales Manager appeared first on Radio World.
Podcast network Stitcher recently moved into its new headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, building out a 2,000-square-foot production complex comprising three studios, two edit rooms and two isolation booths designed in concert with WSDG Walters-Storyk Design Group. The new facilities have been outfitted to accommodate Stitcher’s typical workflow, which can often involve collaboration between talent, producers and engineers at the company’s offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco.Studio C at Stitcher Studios
Romina Larregina, partner, director of production at WSDG, reports that her biggest challenge was ensuring consistency between the new studio spaces. “One of the things that Stitcher looked for was identical sound in every room. That was challenging, to make sure that the reverb time was the same in all the studios, even though the shapes, sizes and volumes were different,” she says.
The floating floor, room-within-a-room design provides critical isolation for speech recording, both from the potentially noisy neighborhood, where the company occupies an entire floor in a building overlooking Bryant Park, as well as between studios. To achieve consistent responses within each space, WSDG implemented custom low-frequency absorption, soffits, ceiling treatment and corner treatments to target specific frequencies, says Larregina. WSDG installed RPG’s hybrid BAD diffusion/absorption panels at the listening position in each control room, she adds.John DeLore, senior production manager
According to John DeLore, senior production manager at Stitcher’s New York office, the choices of audio technology at the new facility were a combination of recommendations from Larregina and the WSDG staff and from Stitcher’s Los Angeles and New York teams. Key to the company’s content creation workflow is a Dropbox scheme implemented by Dave Seidel, Stitcher lead systems engineer, he says.
Every studio is hooked up to an SNS (Studio Network Solutions) EVO shared storage server hosting Dropbox, DeLore explains. Those Dropbox folders are synchronized everywhere within Stitcher’s network, enabling engineers, producers, hosts and other contributors to collaborate from multiple locations, handing off and updating audio files as work progresses.
While the Stitcher app is one of the preeminent podcast listening platforms — it has been described as the most popular alternative to the default Apple podcast app — Stitcher is also a content network with a large catalog of original programming. Much more than simply spoken word, Stitcher Premium shows such as “Wolverine: The Long Night,” Marvel’s first scripted podcast, and “Stranglers,” a documentary series about the Boston Strangler that DeLore produced, feature layers of sound design and custom music, produced in-house.
“Our belief here is that the future of the medium will mirror TV and film,” says DeLore. “As the marketplace becomes more and more crowded with content, attention to technical and artistic details will be a big part of creating content that stands apart from the rest.”
Voice recording may take place in one room, editing in another and mixing in yet another, so certain pieces of gear are standardized at the new facility and between Stitcher locations. Each of the new control rooms features an Allen & Heath Qu-16 console, the desk of choice at the L.A. facility, DeLore reports. “It has a good reputation, good sound, it’s solidly built and doesn’t crash. We love that it’s got the Qu-Drive function; we can hook up a drive and do a multitrack backup in parallel with Pro Tools,” he says.
Microphones throughout are Shure SM7B dynamics, paired with Cloud Cloudlifter CL-4 mic activators to enhance and boost the signal level going into Pro Tools, without noise or artifacts, says DeLore. “It’s a flat mic, really clear, with no coloration. We have other mics in our closet in case somebody wants to come in and use a U 87 or an RE20.”
Each of the three studio control rooms and the two edit bays also include a pair of arm-mounted SM7s, he says, for added flexibility. Mimicking the company’s West Coast Earwolf studio setup, “The engineer can be on-mic from the control room” if desired, he says. “And if the interviewer wants to engineer, we have mics in the room.”
Conversely, computer screens enable remote operation of Pro Tools from the recording spaces. “The Allen & Heath boards have Bluetooth remote capabilities from a tablet, so we’ve also experimented with that,” says DeLore.
About 75% of sessions involve just a host and a guest, he says, in person or on the phone (the studios are equipped with Telos Hx series telephone hybrid units). For that reason, the control rooms offer two channels of AEA RPQ2 mic preamps. “It’s giving us a little extra juice and a little extra color and warmth,” he says.All the recording facilities in Stitcher’s new headquarters, including Studio A’s control room, seen here, were designed by Walters-Storyk Design Group.
Studio A, a larger space that incorporates an isolation booth and a sound lock, is multiuse. “It’s designed for large ensemble recordings, for original podcast score recording and for doing a live music podcast, hopefully; nobody has cracked that code yet, but it’s going to happen and I’m sure we’ll be in that space.”
Control room A houses an A&H Qu-32, for its extra inputs, and additional outboard, including a Grace Design m103 channel strip. “Whether you’re recording a voice for a spoken word podcast or a musical lead vocalist, we wanted Studio A to have some boutique options in the mic pre department.”
Additional processing for music production includes a Warm Audio Tone Beast, a Foote Control Systems P3S stereo compressor and a Lexicon MX400 reverb. “Lexicon is great and we’re all familiar with it,” says DeLore, whose background includes time working at Right Track Recording in Manhattan, as well as Gimlet Media and WNYC Radio. Since launching the facility, Stitcher has added a Boston upright piano, a drum kit and an Ampeg bass amp, he also reports.Edit room in Stitcher’s Manhattan office
Monitoring in the studios and edit rooms, on Larregina’s recommendation, includes Neumann KH 120 two-way speakers, while the A Room additionally features a pair of three-way Neumann KH 310 monitors. “At the point of ingest, we’re just listening to voice,” says DeLore, “so we need to be able to hear everything at a good listening volume, and the Neumann is a clean speaker. The 310s are designed to provide a wider sweet spot, which is ideal for podcasts which can have production teams of four to five people who need to all sit in the studio and be able to hear the same mix.” A PreSonus Monitor Station V2 manages source selection and speaker level control in every room.
The studios and control rooms feature Sennheiser headphones. “Sennheiser are the official headphones of Stitcher. As part of that partnership, we also stocked our mic closet with a nice selection of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones.”
In addition to the studios and edit rooms are a pair of iso booths where producers can escape for a mix or playback session. Summing up the entire facility, DeLore notes, “Everything is set up with as much flexibility as we could build into it.”
At IBC2019, Tieline will unveil the new Gateway IP audio codec, which the company says, is a compact and powerful multichannel IP audio transport solution for radio broadcasters. The Gateway streams up to 16 IP audio channels with support for AES67, AES3 and analog I/O as standard.
Featuring Tieline’s SmartStream PLUS redundant streaming and Fuse-IP data aggregation technologies, Tieline promises the Gateway will “herald a new era in multichannel IP codec streaming.”
Tieline Gateway is suitable for STL, SSL and audio distribution applications, as well as managing multiple incoming remotes at the studio. The compact unit is interoperable with all Tieline IP codecs and compatible over SIP with all EBU N/ACIP Tech 3326 and 3368 compliant codecs and devices.
“The new Gateway codec delivers up to 16 mono channels or eight stereo streams of IP audio in 1RU to increase efficiency and reduce rack space requirements,” said Charlie Gawley, Tieline’s VP Sales APAC/EMEA. “The Tieline Gateway interfaces with legacy analog and AES/EBU sources, as well as newer broadcast plants with AES67 IP audio infrastructure. An optional WheatNet-IP interface will also be also available.”
Configurable through an embedded HTML5 Toolbox Web-GUI interface, the Gateway can also interface with the TieLink Traversal Server for simpler connections and is fully controllable using Tieline’s Cloud Codec Controller.
IBC Stand: 8.E74
The post IBC Sneak Peek: Tieline Unveils Gateway Multichannel IP Codec appeared first on Radio World.
Media Bureau Announces Additional Radio Station Applications Will Be Available In Licensing And Management System
RadiOpio Program Director Laura Civitello has the enviable job of running a youth radio station on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. From an upstairs perch at the beach side Pa’ ia Youth and Cultural Center, Civitello manages KOPO-LP, whose on-air hosts range in age from 9 to 19 years old. On this week’s show, Civitello tells the story of how RadiOpio came to be and talks about the unique role that this LPFM station is playing for young people in the town of Pa’ia.Show Notes
- RadiOpio website
- Pa’ia Youth and Cultural Center
- The 40 Best Little Radio Stations in the U.S. (Paste Magazine)
- Radio Station Tours on Radio Survivor
- Mahalo to Mana’o Radio, Maui’s Community Radio Station
- Mana’o Radio website
- Free Speech Radio News Documentary – On Being Hawaiian and Homeless
The National Association of Broadcasters has completed another step in its process of moving its headquarters closer to Capitol Hill and the thriving Washington neighborhood near Nationals Park baseball stadium and the developing waterfront Wharf area.
But there is still some uncertainty about whether the move will bring it much closer to the Federal Communications Commission’s headquarters, which may be moving, too.
On Monday, papers were filed at the District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds showing that 1M Properties LLC (a wholly-owned subsidiary of NAB) has acquired the 130,000-square-foot building, which is located at 1 M St. SE, for $62.76 million (about $483 per square foot).
An NAB spokesperson confirmed that the transaction was consummated now because the contractor Monument Realty has completed its work on the building. The interior architecture firm will now handle construction of office spaces, with an eye toward moving into the building in early 2020. The transaction has been in progress for more than four years.
NAB sold its current building near the Dupont Circle area in Washington in March 2018 for $31.6 million, and has leased it since then while awaiting completion of its new headquarters. The new structure has nearly twice the space of NAB’s 50-year old iconic curved building at 1771 N St. NW. For many decades, the NAB offices were about four blocks away from the Federal Communications Commission, until the agency moved in 1997 (after a long controversial delay) to The Portals complex in southwest D.C.
NAB’s new headquarters will put it closer to Capitol Hill and also closer to agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and the current FCC offices, although there has been speculation for several years that the FCC is seeking to move from its Portals venue. The FCC has considered a move into a new building just north of the Capitol in a neighborhood called “Swampoodle,” which is the home of several other federal agencies and National Public Radio, among others. The General Services Administration will be involved in any FCC move, and such action appears to be facing the long delays that preceded its 1997 relocation.
A small Alabama radio station has lost its license for failure to pay late regulatory fees to the FCC.
WGEA(AM), licensed to Shelley Broadcasting Co., is located in Geneva, Ala. Its license was for operation at 1150 kHz, with 1 kW daytime power. This license in fact had been revoked in 2017 and the station apparently has been off the air since, though the FCC briefly reinstated it this summer while the legal case was playing out.
Revocations are rare and considered a big deal; and this new order was signed by the chief of the Media Bureau as well as the managing director of the commission. According to the FCC, WGEA owed regulatory fees for every fiscal year from 2008 to 2016. The commission said it sent earlier letters demanding payment of the debt and said SBC did not respond or pay.
This June, it issued an order requiring SBC to pay, show cause why it could not, or face revocation for good. The company then told the FCC that it had not paid because the IRS had withheld a sizable refund owed to SBC’s president and his wife since 1987. According to a post on the station’s still-active website, the amount due to them is $2 million.
But the commission now has ruled that the station provided no documentary evidence that SBC itself is financially unable to pay the regulatory fee debt. “In failing to provide the required documentation, SBC has not met its burden of showing extraordinary and compelling circumstances outweighing the public interest to justify a waiver of its outstanding regulatory fee obligations.”
So the commission pulled the license and rejected the station’s renewal application. And, by the way, “We note that this Revocation Order does not relieve SBC of its obligation to pay any debt, including any regulatory fee, or any other financial obligation that is owed or may in the future be owed to the commission.”
The post FCC Pulls License of Alabama Station a Second Time appeared first on Radio World.
Katz Media, “the nation’s largest media representation company” and part of iHeartMedia, has launched a programmatic sales division for digital audio.
The company calls it Audiology by Katz. “The new division and its programmatic digital audio marketplace was built with the mission to help advertisers and agencies leverage the power of audio to connect with consumers,” it stated. The effort will be headed by David Krulewich, senior VP of programmatic sales for Katz Digital; he reports to Scott Porretti.
The company says Audiology by Katz aims to provide “audio expertise in the programmatic space as well as access to a scalable, premium and brand-safe digital audio marketplace. With programmatic inventory across 120+ connected devices and smart speakers; Audiology is integrated with top Demand Side Platforms and is available in both self-service and managed-service capacities.”
Poretti said digital audio is “now the number one form of mobile media consumption.”
Audiology itself was created in 2017 to “educate the programmatic buying community and fill the digital audio gap in programmatic media plans.”
The post Katz Launches Programmatic Division for Digital Audio appeared first on Radio World.
The author of this commentary is manager of communications and outreach for NPR Distribution.Mike Friedman
Over the past few years, disastrous storms and wildfires have crippled public radio stations and taken them off the air in New Jersey, Puerto Rico, California and many other locations. At the same time, the forthcoming FCC repack and the constant threat of obtrusive construction projects leave many stations fearful that events beyond their control could impact and disrupt their broadcasts.
Fortunately, NPR Distribution, which manages the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS), has created a solution to help stations plan ahead and protect themselves and their broadcast operations.
The PRSS Station Emergency Kit is a suite of emergency backup transmitter kits and portable studio systems that can be used by public radio stations in the event their on-air operations are disrupted by natural disasters, construction activities or other potential threats. The emergency kits are the product of a collaboration with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which provided the necessary funding, and comprise emergency transmitter, antenna and studio kits.
“One of our mandates is to deliver best-in-class technologies, business practices and support to help public radio stations reach their audiences, and these emergency kits are a unique and important way to provide assistance when it’s needed most,” said Michael Beach, vice president of NPR Distribution. “Station managers do themselves a favor when they plan in advance for technical contingencies, and we’re happy to offer another tool they can rely on in the event of a disaster or if they see one looming on the horizon.”
With funding from the CPB, NPR Distribution created, assembled and tested the kits with an eye toward making them available for a modest fee to stations on a temporary basis until their broadcast infrastructure is restored. The transmitter kit costs $275 for the first month and $550 for each subsequent month. The antenna kit fees are $100/$200 and the studio kit fees are $200/$400. Stations cover shipping.Dale Williams helps set up the antenna.
NPR Distribution, which kicked off the project by developing three emergency transmitter and antenna kits and two emergency studio kits, will also be in charge of shipping the kits out to stations that submit a request and to maintaining them when they have been sent back.
A key component of the kits’ development involved field testing the kits at two stations in Virginia, namely WVTF in Roanoke and WCVE in Richmond.
“We made certain the stereo pilot worked, we accessed the transmitter remotely via the internet and then drove within a few miles of the site to evaluate coverage, which we found to be about four to six miles,” said Mike Friedman, RF engineer for WCVE, which is owned by VPM.
“The antenna is very simple to assemble. For the mast assembly, you will find everything you need, and the entire process probably took us a total of 30 minutes to erect.”
Friedman added that one person could set up each of the kits, though he said it eases the situation considerably to have a colleague help, particularly with the 30-foot antenna mast.The antenna set up by WCVE
Asked if the kits as tested would provide a viable alternative if his station went off the air, Friedman replied, “Absolutely. It’s wonderful for NPR Distribution to offer an emergency broadcast alternative so that we can continue to serve our communities. In the event of a disaster at your transmitter site, you have to do what it takes to get back on the air. NPR is providing a bundled solution and the only question is what exactly do you need, given your situation.”
According to NPR Distribution’s policies on the kits, stations desiring to use a kit must contact the PRSS Help Desk with the dates needed, whether the need is immediate or one planned for several months in the future. They will have the option to use the kits for up to 90 days and may renew the contract if needed. Stations will be required to contact NPR Distribution, before the date when they originally agreed to return the kits, if they wish to extend the duration of their contract for the kits.
NPR Distribution has been striving to anticipate and address challenges faced by public radio stations before they occur. This is evident in its Public Radio Engineering Certification initiative, which seeks to help create the next generation of technical leaders in the industry, as well as the Future System initiative and its emphasis on a next-generation hybrid system of satellite and terrestrial content distribution.
More information on the station emergency kits, including pricing and how to order them, is available at http://prss.org/station-kit.
WHAT’S IN THE KITS
Emergency Transmitter Kit
Three emergency transmitter kits will be available. Each transmitter is air-cooled and runs on 120-volt, 60 Hz AC power using local power or a generator. Each kit will consist of the following:
● One Nautel NHB-VS300 300-watt FM transmitter with internal frequency agile exciter, which supports 87.5 to 108 MHz and integrated audio processor
● One INOmini 638 FM receiver for “off-air” monitoring with level meters
● One Furman Power Conditioner PL-Plus-C
● One 12’ N-N jumper cable
● Two 25’ Ethernet cables
● Three 30’ XLR cables
● One Pelican heavy-duty rack case
In addition, by request NPR Distribution can also provide a 1-5/8” to N adaptor or a 3-1/8” to N adaptor for connecting into an existing line and antenna
Emergency Antenna Kit
Three antenna kits will be available to the system that consist of:
● One Allen Dick Band II Broadband FM antenna
● One 75’ flexible transmission line
● One 30’ portable BlueSky mast with guy ropes
Emergency Studio Kit
Two emergency studio kits have also been developed, with each containing the following:
● One RODECaster Pro audio mixer and recorder
● Three Shure SM58S dynamic microphones
● Three Shure desktop microphone stands
● Three pairs of Audio-Technica ATHMx-40 headphones
● All necessary cables and adaptors
● Pelican road case with foam insert
Just east of San Diego, California in El Cajon is Grossmont College, home to online college radio station Griffin Radio. An extension of the community college’s Media Communications program, Griffin Radio is a “practical applications laboratory,” providing students with experience running and operating a radio station.Griffin Radio studio. Photo: J. Waits
Griffin Radio is the descendant of AM carrier current station KGCR, which dates back to at least the 1970s. A 1986 piece in the Los Angeles Times explains the state of the station at the time, although misstates the station’s lengthier history:
Grossmont College’s tiny KGCR, which went on air 18 months ago and now broadcasts Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., has three formats. The first hour is devoted to jazz; 9 a.m. to noon is alternative music, and noon to 7 p.m. is Top 40.”
Call letters were eventually changed to KGFN, with the station ultimately getting renamed Griffin Radio after it dispensed with its carrier current broadcast. At the station since 1997, General Manager/Faculty Advisor Evan Wirig told me that the station’s AM carrier current transmissions inexplicably only went to the library. He remarked that the rationale behind transmitting radio in a quiet library space never made sense to him, although the speakers under the bookstore were appreciated.Retro signage on Grossmont College building. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
He ended the carrier current broadcasts around 2000 and joked that prior to that one could apparently hear the AM broadcasts under Grossmont College’s old lamp posts. Things have changed quite a bit since then and the campus continues to evolve, made apparent to me after I navigated through a labyrinth of construction adjacent to the Digital Arts building where the station is housed.Sign at Grossmont College pointing to Media Communications building during construction. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
A long-time radio fan and media industry veteran (he met his wife while doing college radio), Wirig seems to relish his current role as mentor and teacher. Like a proud parent, he enthusiastically shared anecdotes about students and alumni from the program, marveling at their achievements. Many have gone on to radio and media industry jobs and students regularly win broadcasting awards from various organizations.Plaque at Griffin Radio celebrating student award winners under Dr. Evan Wirig. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
Like most college radio stations, Griffin Radio has student leaders, regular air shifts, and many off-air projects, from promotional activities to production work. Live programs typically air between 8am and 3pm on school days. During my summertime visit students were not around, although the station runs on automation. Down the hall from the Griffin Radio studio, a journalism “Bootcamp” was underway, with students from various colleges getting a week-long crash course in hands-on journalism. Topics and projects included editing, podcasting, news reading, and radio news.Poster advertising Journalism/Broadcast Bootcamp at Grossmont College. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
Although separate from the academic year’s radio program, there’s certainly overlap between the boot camp and the three semester long radio series. Those wishing to participate in Griffin Radio must first take a class in basic audio production or basic announcing. Advanced students have the opportunity to take on major leadership roles at the station, including Station Director, Program Director and News Director. While those positions are hired by Wirig; the student leaders are tasked with interviewing and hiring candidates for additional roles, including Production Manager, Music Director, and so on.Director bins at Griffin Radio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
For the most part students are selecting the music that airs on Griffin Radio, which coalesces around a format that Wirig dubs “college top 40.” Encompassing a wide array of genres, the sounds include oldies, new age, rap, hip hop, independent music, country western, Broadway tunes, 80s new wave, progressive, metal, alternative and even holiday music. He added that it’s a “good, eclectic mix” that focuses mainly on the “college audience.” Although they are free from FCC rules as an internet station, Griffin Radio still eschews profanity-laden tracks and avoids material “promoting a hostile environment,” as Wirig relayed.Computer monitor at Griffin Radio showing tracks playing. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
Wirig has high standards, telling me, “I expect a degree of professionalism.” Students can only play music housed in Griffin Radio’s digital library and when there isn’t a live show, automation kicks in. Occasionally bands play in the spacious station space or on its adjacent balcony. Additionally, Griffin Radio regularly does remote broadcasts from campus events, including career fairs and transfer days.Stack of CDs at Griffin Radio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
As he’s preparing students for real world, industry jobs, Wirig explained that for him, “hands on” learning is critical. “You just can’t learn outside of doing it,” he remarked. While students are gaining exposure to industry standards, like music rotation, they are also given the opportunity to do specialty shows and podcasts (recent ones have dug into musicals, urban legends, and the urban dictionary). Some students have done shows in their native languages, including Latinx Fest (in Spanish) and a techno show in Japanese; both shows drew audiences from afar, including Japan and just across the border in Mexico. One long-time regular Griffin Radio listener even sends DJs pizza when he is impressed by what they are doing on-air.Audio equipment at Griffin Radio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
As we wrapped up my tour, Wirig waxed philosophical about journalism and media, remarking that the program continues to reinvent itself and that media is “very resilient.” Pointing out that, “leadership never changes” and that “good audio will always be good audio,” Wirig clearly relishes watching his students grow and succeed. “I will never give up on anybody who keeps trying,” he opined.Event binder at Griffin Radio. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor
Thanks to Evan Wirig for the wonderful visit to Griffin Radio. This is my 159th radio station tour report and my 104th college radio station tour. Read all of my radio station visits in numerical order or by station type in our archives. Also, you can hear some tidbits about my San Diego-area college radio travels on Radio Survivor Podcast #202.
The post Radio Station Visit #159: Griffin Radio at Grossmont College appeared first on Radio Survivor.
IBC2019 is almost here. Between now and then Radio World will conduct several short Q&As with manufacturers about their plans and offerings, to help you get the most out of the big annual trade show. Frank Foti is the founder of Omnia Audio, now a part of the Telos Alliance and is executive chairman of The Telos Alliance; Tom Swidarski is CEO of the Telos Alliance.
Radio World: How has business been for the company since last year’s IBC Show?
Frank Foti: Business has been up for us across the entire portfolio. AoIP continues to grow as it migrates deeper into other sections of broadcast, especially television.
Tom Swidarski: Broadcasters who have held out are starting to realize that there is no time like the present to convert to IP infrastructure. We invented broadcast AoIP, so we’ve got the most mature technology available on the market today, and the biggest names in broadcast trust us. This drives business. Our successes are also attributable to the increased alignment in our sales, marketing and product development teams. We’ve debuted a new product introduction process that decreases our time to market and we’ve standardized the manufacturing process. The result is a nimbleness that lets us both lead the industry in innovation and respond quickly to the evolving audio landscape. You’ll see that evidenced by the amount of new product introductions to the international market at IBC this year.
RW: What are you hearing from your customers about their business outlook this year? In what areas should we expect growth or the most interesting projects?
Foti: Well, it’s a multipronged dialog really. On one hand, we’re reconnecting with companies who reorganized for various business reasons. And on the other hand, we’re in deep discussions about platform migration and paradigm shifts. It’s exciting, and what we once saw as potential is now reality. For growth, the action is network and cloud-based.
Swidarski: Another challenge is the fierce competition for the ear. Our clients have to be wherever their customers are and embrace the ways in which their listeners consume content. They have to be ready to change course on a dime, and are realizing the advantage of being able to choose products from various vendors to “roll their own” systems. This underscores the critical importance of interoperability and manufacturer as a partner. For our part, we’re helping clients through these transitions by moving toward software, automated solutions, and virtualization.
RW: Within the last year or so the two large station ownership groups have emerged from bankruptcy. Are you seeing any increase in equipment sales or interest? What is your feeling for the overall health of the radio industry?
Foti: We sure do live in interesting times! It’s a good step forward when those companies are able to emerge from their challenges, and kudos to their teams for doing so. That’s not easy work. Those companies’ interest in our offerings was always there, and now we’re fortunately catching up on the business side with them. As for the health of the radio industry, we know it has a pulse!
Swidarski: The term “radio” used to be reserved for analog, terrestrial, over-the-air delivery. That model is still valid, alive, and well, but radio is evolving and diversifying into digital terrestrial delivery, streaming, and on-demand content. The popularity of smart speakers — the new table radio — is testament to this, as is the continued increase in podcast listenership. The good news is that radio is going through a renaissance, and the demand for audio content has never been higher. Our customers are producing quality and a large quantity of content like never before, and they are looking to companies that understand their evolving needs and pain points and who respond to them with innovative solutions. The broadcasters with the best tools and the most forward-thinking strategies and facilities are going to prosper.
RW: You’ve been active in the equipment manufacturing market for years. What’s the biggest problem or challenge facing manufacturers right now? Does the trade row between the United States and China greatly affect you?
Foti: The goofiness between the U.S. and China has had a bit of impact. It’s unfortunate to see the leaders of these great nations act so childishly. (We sure could use Tony Soprano here.) Actually, there’s always some challenge in our world — components have life cycles that end, manufacturing schedules change, research/development can be a wildcard, and day-to-day business is as dynamic as an audio processor. We are used to being flexible and responsive enough to react to these challenges quickly and directly, leaving things for the most part, business as usual.
RW: What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your stand?
Swidarski: In Stand 8.D47 we’re again focusing on solutions rather than products, and thinking of customers as partners. Content is content, despite delivery method (whether it’s a podcast, radio, TV, or streaming), and our goal at TA is to inspire broadcasters to create the most exciting audio experiences imaginable.
Foti: Well, if I told you, I’d have to kill you. There is indeed some stellar news that will be revealed on Day One of the show from Axia at our press conference. In addition to that, we’ll have the new Omnia MPX Node running in the stand. It’s the first hardware implementation that carries FM-Stereo MPX over IP at a bitrate as low as 320 kbps. We’ll have tons of new TV products, as well as a host of cool stuff for the growing Infinity IP Intercom platform, including Infinity Link site-to-site connectivity. It’s going to be a big show for us!
RW: Going by the interest on our website, AoIP technology is on the top of the list for product acquisition and upgrades. Is that something you are seeing and if so, how are you addressing that?
Foti: What you’re seeing in interest is on point. It is the hot topic. For those not working in the IP ecosphere, their days could be numbered.
Swidarski: Having brought this technology to the broadcast market, The Telos Alliance always has and will continue to be AoIP’s biggest champion. It’s one of our key pillars.
RW: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at the 2019 IBC Show?
Foti: Cloud, IP and web-based applications and products.
Swidarski: That’s right. The march towards virtualization in the broadcast industry continues each year with automation systems, call management software, and streaming processing offered with great flexibility. Virtualization is particularly possible with the wide adoption of audio over IP. Because AoIP converts audio signals into IP packets, it’s perfectly suited for routing and processing within virtual environments. Our own march to virtualization comes in the form of what we call the “Hyperstudio Experience,” which will be demoed in our booth again this year. We have virtualized streaming processors, AoIP AES67 audio drivers, phone hybrids, automation and control logic systems, remote control and mixing applications, and entire mix engines that could be used as a single Virtual Radio Production System. This could be deployed on a local server, external server, or used in conjunction with the cloud, creating a production environment that is scalable, adaptable, flexible, and future-proof while enjoying all of the sonic benefits that its rackmount counterparts are so well known for. Within a business model that makes it affordable by organizations large and small.
RW: Will you be attending any sessions or looking forward to any events?
Foti: We always look forward to the reaction of our clients as we share new offerings, but also like to lead with education. We’ll participate in the IP Showcase, where Martin Dyster will be leading “Reinventing Intercom with SMPTE 2210-30” on Sept. 14 at 2:30. Greg Shay will also be talking about “Investigating Media Over IP Multicast Hurdles in Containerized Platforms” on Sept. 15 at 3:30. We look forward to catching up with everyone at our press conference and reception on Sept. 13, 4:00 at stand 8.D47. Drinks and snacks will be at the ready after a long day on the show floor!
RW: You’re a show veteran, how has the show changed since your first visit?
Foti: IBC, like NAB, is a fraternity. A place to connect, network, share and gather information, and enjoy the comradery of those in our industry. In that regard, not much has changed, aside from those who’ve moved on or changed positions.
Swidarski: I agree. I’ve been in the industry a couple of years now, and I’m continually impressed with the spirit of the broadcast industry.
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